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Trends in Family Physician Usage among Canadians from 2001 to 2016: An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis

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Abstract

As primary health care providers, family physicians play a critical role in Canada’s health care system by providing first-level contact for patients and acting as advocates for preventative medicine. Due to their essential role in population health, public health practitioners are concerned about temporal trends surrounding family physician visits. This study uses eight cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey, a nationally representative survey, to conducing an age-period-cohort analysis with the bounding method, while controlling for sex and race. Most notably, we discover a declining cohort trend indicating that later cohorts are less likely to visit a family doctor over a 12-month period. These results suggest that health promotion policies surrounding family physician use should not only be targeted towards middle and older-aged adults who experience declining health, as the cohort effect implies that a portion of health care avoidance behaviour is molded in youth and young adulthood.

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